Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 29
We're steadily reaching the end of the main season for the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming.. This year, of course, is working a little different than previous years since COVID threw off all the schedules. Where previously the season would end, maybe a summer fill-in would show up, and then the CW would basically do reruns for a month until everything started back up in October, this year we're going to have a fair bit of overlap. Legends is only going to be off for a month before it starts back up later this year while Stargirl is going to overlap the start and end of both main seasons for the 'verse. That's just hard for a site like this to organize (which is why we're not doing main coverage on Stargirl here).
Of course, the big coverage this week is for the season finale of Superman & Lois. The show continues to be one of the better things running on the CW so we'll be sad to see it go away for a time (until early 2022 from current reports), but we'll give it a proper send off for now:
Superman & Lois, Season 1, Episode 15: Last Sons of Krypton
So here we are at the finale of Superman & Lois and, aside from one scene right at the end (that apparently has some fans all in a tizzy), this episode played out about how I expected it. If I'd been forced to write this episode and have it conform to the exact CW standard we all have come to know from the 'verse, this is exactly the episode I would have written. There were no surprises, no big chances taken, nothing that will shake this series to its core. Anyone coming in hoping that the show would absolutely blow the doors off the CW Arrowverse, frankly I think your expectations were too high.
All that said, this was a solid, pretty standard episode of Superman & Lois, a show that has consistently been one of the better acted, better produced shows in the 'verse. It's pretty clear that the WB and the CW are trying to position this SupermanThe first big superhero from DC Comics, Superman has survived any number of pretenders to the throne, besting not only other comic titans but even Wolrd War II to remain one of only three comics to continue publishing since the 1940s. show as their nexus for the Arrowverse moving forward, and I'm fine with that. Most of the shows are either gone or going and the 'verse of next year is going to look radically different from even last season. If Superman & Lois becomes the central figure of the franchise, I think the network would be better for it.
That said, the episode did have a few flaws to pick at. For starters, Maxwell Lord / Tal-Rho was turned from the villain of the season into just a proper for his ghost-dad (not possessing Jordan), Zeta-Rho. Zeta is an interesting figure and could have made a good villain this season were it not for two factors: one, he wasn't in enough of the season to be cast a real shadow over our heroes, and two, he's not a physical presence. For him to really matter he'd have to be an active agent in the season instead of being forced to act through his son -- or, in this episode, through Jordan. But since we know the show isn't going to kill off Jordan the tense fight between father and possessed-son doesn't really have any bang to it. If it could have been Kal-El fighting the real Zeta-Rho, that would have been something.
That, or the show had to commit and have the plan to make a group of Kryptonians actually succeed only for them to then decide, "you can have your Earth... for now. One day we'll be back," and leave the threat of evil Kryptonians hanging over the show for future seasons. That would have been a bigger swing and might have given future seasons (and this episode) some heft. But instead Lois and Johnathan are able to get through to Jordan and the kid shakes off the evil Kryptonian ghost and, at that point, the whole war is over. Done before it really got going.
Due to COVID the whole pace of the back half of this season has been off so I'm not going to complain too much about all the ways this season could have been better. They had to rewrite and rework a lot of stuff due to the limitations they were working with and the production team did a commendable job cranking out a pretty watchable season of TV. I still enjoy the dynamics of the central family and think they're all really well cast. This season finale just points out that the show will fare much better when it doesn't have to rejigger itself over and over again to make a COVID season work.
Oh, and also maybe this should be be better if it didn't have to conform to the standards of the CW. It feels like the network, its formula, and its budget are keeping this show from true greatness. If this series could be over on HBO Max, where it could get the budget and production values (as well as a better release pace) like the shows over on that streamer I think this show could really fly. It's the best thing on the Arrowverse right now. This is the time to make it even better.
Legends of Tomorrow, Season 6, Episode 11: Bored on Board Onboard
I've been saying for a few episodes now that I wasn't really sure where this season of Legends was headed. We had the big villain of the season, Bishop, get defeated halfway into the run, and since then the show has been more focused on Constantine slowly going evil from magic abuse. Would Constantine be the villain or were they somehow going to try to find a way to shoehorn Bishop back into the show. This episode essentially gives us the answer: it's both. Well, sort of.
In the episode the team is stuck flying slowly back to Earth from the Great Bowling Alley in the Sky, so the pass the time they all decide to play a board game. The game itself is an "Are You a Werewolf"-style game, just with a board setup like Clue. Constantine, though, get bored with the basic setup and magically transports everyone into a living representation of the game. And then the magic starts to turn bad and we learn that if the remaining heroes don't guess who the killer is properly they'll be stuck in the game forever.
Meanwhile, Gary and Rory have to deal with a ship, Bishop's ship, docking with their own. Kayla comes on board and seemingly is there to help them. Instead, though, she implants a bug on the ship and the Waverider begins printing a body in the med bay. Oh my, oh my, who could it be (of course, it's Bishop, as we'll see next episode). The evil A.I.-cum-mad scientist is back and, presumably, he's going to be the major plot line for the last three episodes of the season. I guess that's cool...
This season, on the whole, has felt uneven, but the back half, which has been free of Bishop, was certainly more enjoyable than the first seven episodes. Much of the problem with that first part of the season was that Bishop, as charismatically as he was played, just isn't much of a villain. I don't know if its just that his plans are too grand to be easily explained in a TV show, or that he never really felt like a threat (or all of the above), but whatever the case I'm not exactly interested in Bishop coming back to do more of whatever it is he does.
At the same time, though, Constantine going mad with magic power is actually an interesting storyline. I think that could have potential if they made him the big bad of the season, letting his magic take over an Dark Constantine becomes the force the rest of the heroes have to fight. As it is, I'm expecting that he's going to resist using his magic for three episodes only to then realize he's the only one that can stop Bishop and sacrifice himself to save the day (a theory only backed up by the fact that actor Matt Ryan is playing a new character next year as Constantine is "leaving" the show).
I'm sure the next three episodes will be fun, just like this silly episode was fun. I can just see how this season is now going to play out (like I could with Superman & Lois) and a little bit of the thrill of the run just came out. Legends does its best work when it defies expectations. Maybe the show can do that here, too, but as far as the grand plan for this season is concerned they'll only doing what I've been expecting all along and it's a little sad.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Stargirl introduced a possible new Green Lantern last week (at the end of the episode) and this week finds us meeting Jenny (presumably Jenny-Lynn Hayden), daughter of the late Alan Scott, and natural successor to his Green Lantern power (she will eventually go by the name Jade, I assume, as that's her superhero name in comics). This episode focuses on her, letting her learn her powers, find out about her legacy, while Courtney stands off on the sides jealous with envy. Yes, her green-eyed monster is actually represented by a Green Lantern. We see what you did there, guys. It's an okay episode, and much more focused on a single story, but still not anywhere near as good as the other shows running this week.
- Meanwhile Titans started up last week with a burst of three episodes for its third season. Since it's so far removed from the main Arrowverse continuity we won't cover it in detail here at all. Just know that if the show annoyed you in the last two seasons for it's brain-dead characters and rushed plotting, these three new episodes won't change your opinion at all.